QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
Name: Hali Ford
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Worlds Apart” – Finished 11th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Loving nature.
Gordon Holmes: First and foremost, do you still love nature?
Hali Ford: (Laughs) I do still love nature.
Holmes: That was for Jenn, your Dirty 30 sister.
Ford: (Laughs) Dirty 30 for life! Four of us got tattoos together.
Holmes: Oh boy…that’s horrible. What is it?
Ford: It says “Whatever,” and it has a little 30. I’m not fully committed.
Holmes: Is it in a place that’s OK to show to a married man?
Ford: (Laughs) Yes, it’s on my wrist.
Holmes: Look at you! Will 34 get a cool cliquey name?
Ford: No, when your last tattoo says “Whatever,” it’s probably time to stop.
Holmes: How did you feel about this Game Changers title?
Ford: I was shocked to hear that I was grouped with a bunch of game changers. I thought I played a bad game. I never really got started. I wanted to change the game. Right as I was leaving I wanted to start a girls’ coup and overthrow the Blue Collars and switch up the game, but nobody would go with me. I think I acted too late. I changed the game a little bit on Nagarote because Max went home because of me. I lobbied for Shirin to stay. Besides that, I don’t think I did much of anything.
Holmes: As somebody who feels like she didn’t do enough last time, does that inspire you to come in here and kick ass?
Ford: Absolutely, I was pissed off after my last season and I couldn’t wait to get back out here. I just didn’t think I’d be given the opportunity. I need to be proud of what I do out here because I wasn’t proud of my last game. I have really high standards in anything I do. I need to get “Survivor” into a good place.
Holmes: Is that a million dollar check?
Ford: Not necessarily. There’s too much luck in “Survivor” to bet on winning. But I need to play a game I’m really proud of. I want to do big moves. I want to play a subtle game, but I want to have a big effect. I want to be very influential in this game.
Holmes: Game Changer is kind of a grandiose term. Does the weight of that concern you?
Ford: No, in my life I’ve been thrown into situations where I don’t feel competent, and then that gets me excited enough to become competent. When I was in the No Collar tribe, it didn’t take anything for me to be in the core of that alliance. It was just making friends. And the second you showed strategic thoughts you got voted out. I don’t know if I’m the turtle that stays the same size of the aquarium it’s in or not. But, I think that pretty immediately out here I’m going to become a peer among these people.
Holmes: You’re a lawyer now? You passed the bar?
Ford: Yes I did.
Holmes: So, you’re white collar now?
Ford: (Laughs) I don’t know. I work for criminals, so I don’t know what that makes me.
Holmes: How do you feel about this cast?
Ford: I think everybody out here is going to be super fun to be around. It’s an intimidating cast. I’m excited about the caliber of people I’ll be working with. There aren’t any easy boots. There aren’t any weakling stragglers. Maybe one or two…
Holmes: Who are our weakling stragglers?
Ford: The big guy Jeff. I don’t think he’s going to hold up. But I haven’t seen every season. I haven’t seen him play, I don’t know what he’s about. I don’t see him going far. And Debbie, I don’t see her being too strong. She looks like the oldest person out here.
Holmes: Anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Ford: Aubry. I think she’s cool, she’s kind of nerdy. I like her style. The brown-haired Ciera I could work with. And some of the veteran players like Cirie. You’ve got to look out for her, but I’d rather be with her than against her. I like her as a person. And I think I could work with Malcolm or Ozzy, but probably not both.
Holmes: What’s your relationship like with blonde-haired Sierra?
Ford: I don’t have any intention of working with Sierra. Our trust is pretty much gone. The minute I found out she was on, I was like, “Oh great! I’ve got a shoo-in alliance.” But it didn’t take ten minutes to think back about how she played. I don’t want to play with someone who played like she played. I obviously can’t read her or persuade her. Maybe I did read her and she changed her mind?
Holmes: Malcolm dated So from your season. Do you and he have any kind of friendship?
Ford: We’ve hung out a couple of times. We all went to an arcade one night and hung out. He’s cool, he’s fun. He’s wise, too. I’d like to be good friends with him.
Holmes: There are two people here you don’t know. How do you deal with Zeke and Michaela?
Ford: I didn’t stack my deck as thick as I could because I haven’t seen the past three seasons.
Ford: I don’t have a TV! I live in a trailer. My trailer park Wi-fi can’t stream that stuff. I think it’s an advantage though. It’s good to know your enemy, but it’s also good to take first impressions of people. I might have a fresh approach that could be an advantage.
Holmes: There are four people from Kaoh Rong. How do you deal with that?
Ford: I don’t know! I need to get some intel from people who saw that season to see if they like each other. It’s really easy to see on “Survivor” who likes each other and who doesn’t. They sit together, they sleep by each other, it’s not going to be hard to figure that out. I don’t like the idea of four people who’ve played together, but if it’s like me and Sierra…I don’t think we’re going to work together. It’s like Sarah and Tony. It seemed like they hated each other at the end. But four people? They’ve got a target on their back.
Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you arguments that people will use against you. I need you to counter them. I want you gone, you tell people why they should keep you around.
Ford: (Laughs) I don’t think you want me gone.
Holmes: I had to dig deep to find these reasons because you’re delightful.
Ford: And I’m not a threat.
Holmes: Hali’s a lawyer though. I don’t want to go to final Tribal with a lawyer. Let’s boot her.
Ford: First of all, you can’t play the first half of the game like that. You can’t think that far ahead. And my whole personality is fairly disarming. I become a different person in front of a judge. But, that’s not my personality. I thought of lying to everyone and saying I failed the bar, but a lie is more detrimental that the truth.
Holmes: Hali is way too likable. I don’t want her to get into the finals.
Ford: Look at me! I’m totally docile. I’m going to fly under the radar.
Holmes: That was my next one! Hali’s going to fly under the radar and take my million!
Ford: (Laughs) I guess I’ll have to fly under the radar even more.
Holmes: Under under the radar?
Holmes: Are you a part of any pre-season alliances? Have you heard any rumors?
Ford: People talk. Everyone talks in the “Survivor” community. But, I’m pretty removed from that. I did that purposefully. People make pre-season alliances and maybe they don’t turn into anything…or maybe they do. But, you’re still going to need other numbers. I wanted to start fresh. The beach is going to be my day one. I’ve already identified people I’m going to approach first.
Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. But, people wink and smile at each other. Have you been doing any of that?
Ford: Oh, totally. I’m working it. I’ve had talks mostly with Cirie. I really do want to work with her. Ozzy and Malcolm I’ve shared some words with and glances. Oddly enough, I’ve laughed with Tony a lot and Sarah.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone else sharing glances?
Ford: You know who’s going around and talking to everyone? Tai. He just walks up to people and starts conversations. You can’t do that. Everytime I see him, he’s talking to someone.
Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards with every player here except for Zeke and Michaela, because we don’t know them yet. I’m going to take this lawyer who doesn’t watch enough “Survivor” out as well. I’ll hand you three at random and you tell me who you’re going to vote out first, who you’ll work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.
Round One: Sandra, Aubry, and Troyzan
Ford: This is perfect! I’m going to work with Aubry. She doesn’t seem too threatening. She’s smart. She’s a good person to talk things through with. But, I can beat her. Troyzan will go to the end. He’s not going to win. He’s older and he’s kind of coo-coo. Nobody’s going to give him a million dollars and he can’t get to the end unless I take him. And I’m voting out Sandra because she’s won twice. She obviously knows how to do something right.
Round Two: Ciera, Malcolm, and Tai
Ford: Tai is my first boot. He’s already sneaking around talking to everyone and he’s too likable. He’s probably not that great in challenges. I can’t take Malcolm to the end. He might just win, but I would work with him. Ciera, I don’t know a lot about her. But I bet I could outtalk her any day. I’ll take her to the end.
Round Three: Caleb, Ozzy, and Brad
Ford: I’ll work with Ozzy, but I won’t take him to the end. I can already see us…we’re on the same page. We’re really similar. We both love nature, we can go fishing. I’d take Caleb to the end. I don’t think he’s going to play a better game than me. I’m not concerned about him. I’d boot Brad because I’d rather take Caleb to the end. I think Brad is more wise.
Round Four: JT, Andrea, and Tony
Ford: Ahh! Tony and JT are my first two boots.
Holmes: That’s not how it works.
Ford: OK, Tony is my first boot. I don’t want him slinking around. I’d take Andrea to the end. I don’t know a lot about her. She seems sweet enough, but I wouldn’t be concerned about going to the end with her. I’d work with JT. He’s a good guy.
Round Five: Cirie, Sarah, and Jeff
Ford: Jeff would be my first boot. I don’t really want him on my tribe in the first part of the game. His personality is already rubbing me raw. People cuss all the time, that’s fine. But he just cusses at odd times.
Holmes: You’ve got to earn your curses?
Ford: Exactly! Use them nicely. It’s ill-mannered. I already said I wanted to work with Cirie. I’d take her to the end, because I’d feel like I really did something if I beat Cirie. That may be kind of like…who’s that Asian guy that lost to Tony?
Ford: It might be kind of a Woo decision. But, I don’t think it would be. But just in case, I’ll just work with her. And I’ll take Sarah to the end because she’s a safer bet than Cirie.
Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.
Round Six: Sierra and Debbie
Ford: Boot Sierra and work with Debbie. I’m not working with Sierra.
Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes